It’s a little tough to translate a video, so we’ll go by time code here.
0:00: Disclaimer: 1) This film may make people uncomfortable, and children are forbidden to watch it. 2) This film is meant as an adult fairy tale, and has no connection to real life. 3) This film is only meant to be shared during the 2011 New Years’ (Spring Festival) Greetings period, so please don’t pass it around after that.
0:00-0:06: Opening titles: A 2011 Spring Festival Greetings Card
0:14: Kuang Kuang: Wishing you a happy Spring Festival, from Xiao Hong.
0:17: Book cover: “Little Rabbit Kuang Kuang”
0:21: Text in book: Far far in the future, there was a beautiful forest…
0:21-0:26: Singing: “Little white rabbit, white as snow, two ears standing upright”
0:27-0:29: Side of truck reads: “Three Tiger Milk ((This name sounds very similar in Chinese to Sanlu, the name of the company that made the tainted milk powder.)). Good tiger milk so rabbit moms can relax.”
0:27-0:36: Singing: “They jump and bounce around, so cute, they like eating carrots and vegetables, they like eating vegetables.”
0:42-0:50: Singing: “Little rabbit, be good, open your mouth, open it up quickly, and drink up your happy future.”
0:52: Text on cave wall: Big Tiger Cave. Serve the rabbits. Build a harmonious forest.
0:55: Text on red banner: Build a Harmonious Forest ((Slightly different wording from the previous one, but same meaning.)).
1:00-1:03: “No one move. Let the leaders go first!” ((This is a reference to the Xinjiang fire.))
1:05-1:13: Singing: “Little rabbits, be good, get out of the road, quickly get out of the way, the leaders will exit first.”
1:10: Speech bubble text: “Help!”
1:15: Text on buildings: “Demolish.”
1:17: Text on slot machine: “Demolish.”
1:19: Text on TV screen: Tiger leader: “Condolences” Rabbit: “Thanks”
1:20: Text on house: “Demolish.” ((These are all references to the many instances of illegal demolition that have occurred recently, as well as several self-immolations in protest. See this report for more info.))
1:25: Text on old rabbit’s face: “Protest”
1:27-1:35: Singing: “Little rabbit, be good, quickly demolish the house, demolish it faster, we must put the new one up.”
1:47: Speech: “My Dad is Tiger Gang!
1:49: Text on rabbit in car’s face: “Son, drive!”
1:49-1:55: Singing: “Little rabbit, be good, get out of the way, get off the road, Gang’s son wants to drive over here.”
2:02-2:10: Singing: “Little rabbit. Be good. Listen! Be good. Don’t just say whatever you want.” ((The image of the rabbit crushed under a truck at the end of this segment is a reference to the Qian Yunhui incident.))
2:15: Growling: “Be careful or accidents will happen.”
2:30: Text on rabbit’s face: “Kill”
2:30-2:54: “Little white rabbit, white as snow, two fangs standing upright. Don’t make me angry, when I’m pushed ((i.e., forced into doing something, forced into a position)) I can bite hard, too. When I’m pushed I can bite hard too.”
3:00: Speech: Kuang Kuang, Kuang Kuang!
3:07-3:14: Singing: “Little white rabbit, white as snow, two ears standing upright”
3:15: Kuang Kuang: This is a really meaningful year!
3:18: Kuang Kuang, come help your mom make dumplings!
3:22-3:25: The song is ending: “…like eating carrots and vegetables. They like eating vegetables ((This is a bit of a double entendre, as 吃菜 can also just mean to eat a meal or eat a prepared “dish” of any kind. Given the red background, it seems to also imply that the rabbits like eating tigers, too.)).”
3:28: Text: “The year of the rabbit has come. Even rabbits bite when they’re pushed.”
This video has been being passed around today on Twitter, Weibo, and other Chinese social networking sites. Most of my Chinese friends have seen it, although they almost all also work in media. Still, it’s fair to say the video is pretty widespread.
Regardless of what the disclaimer says ((Presumably, it’s just there for the sake of plausible deniability, although I can’t imagine it will save them.)), it is probably obvious even to those who don’t speak Chinese that this video makes repeated and explicit reference to real life events. The milk powder death, the fire, the illegal demolitions, the beating of protesters, the self-immolation, the “Tiger Gang” car accident, etc. are all references to real-life events that any Chinese viewer would be immediately and intimately familiar with.
Of course, sarcastic animations and other web jokes about these incidents are common. What is not common is the end of the video, which depicts a rabbit rebellion where masses of rabbits storm the castle of the tigers and eat them alive. For viewers who have already gathered that in this picture, rabbits represent ordinary Chinese people and the tigers represent the government/the powerful, this is a revolutionary–literally–statement. The clip ends with what seems almost like a call to arms for the new year, with Kuang Kuang saying it will be a meaningful (有意义, could also be translated as “important”) year and then the end title reading: “The year of the rabbit has come. Even rabbits bite when they’re pushed.”
This isn’t the bullshit so-called “inciting to subvert state power” that Liu Xiaobo was given eleven years for. This video is actually inciting people to subvert state power. I don’t know whether the animation studio is foreign or domestic, but if they’re in China, I imagine they’ll be hearing from the local PSB very, very soon. [And with that said, I urge readers to be extremely cautious in spreading this around on domestic websites, and even foreign ones. Remember that person who was arrested for a (sarcastically) subversive tweet a couple months ago.]
[Further research seems to indicate that they’re a domestic group. Their website is registered in China with the requisite ICP number and contact info that includes Beijing phone and fax numbers.]
On that note, I should make it clear that while I find this video fascinating, I deeply hope it is not an omen. Obviously, I have many issues with the Chinese government, but I think there is still a chance for a peaceful path to reform, and open rebellion would be a disaster for ordinary Chinese people and the government alike. So, to the Chinese censors reading this, for once I’m on your side. Let’s not have a rebellion. That is a decidedly bad idea.
Speaking of censors, I feel certain this video will be erased from all domestic websites within 24 hours, probably much less. To suppress discussion of it, though, censors will have a very difficult time. Will “rabbit” become a “sensitive word” that returns zero search results just as the Year of the Rabbit is upon us? Perhaps. That would be a serious embarrassment for the government, but they may calculate that the alternative is even worse.
Chinese forum users love to use animated gifs, but I found them especially prevalent in these threads. Very few people, it seemed, wanted to say much of anything about the video, and many of the comments were just animations of a rabbit that says “ding” (i.e., vote up, support, etc.)
I fear this will be harmonized soon…
It really is a meaningful year….ding….
Gun in hand……
The moderator will delete this, it’s already been deleted once.
A single spark…..
Totally covers most of last year’s “sensitive words”
I’ve really been bitten by a rabbit before…so, don’t push them.
I watched the whole thing in silence.
I’m suddenly so angry! That last part really helps let off steam!
The person who posted this has been “trans-provinced” [refers to police traveling across provincial borders to arrest someone].
We are all rabbit people.
[In response to the above comment] You’ve typed it wrong, you mean “wronged” peoples. [The character 冤, which means “wronged” and is often written on signs by protesters, is very similar to the character for rabbit, which is 兔]
The rabbits’ weary howls are truly painfully moving, those who watch can’t help but cry…a howl, a soft howl….What is posted here is not a video, it’s anger.
It’s so satisfying….
Looks like this is the last episode for Kuang Kuang [this studio has produced a series of animated shorts before under the Kuang Kuang name, but nothing openly subversive like this.]
This needs to be spread [around]
This is already beyond anger…
Well, that got deleted fast…